This is a comment by Joanna on the post “Facebook Ghosts“.
Our friend died three years ago, Robert, father of two small children when he fell of a balcony. Six months later my 23 year old cousin died of an Oxy overdose.
Both of their Facebook pages go on. On Robert’s birthday, wedding anniversary, birthdays of his kids, or the anniversary of his death, people go on to his Facebook page and post messages to him. We post updates on our lives, kids born, great steaks we’ve eaten or black diamond mountains we’ve skied, bald eagles we’ve seen (his brother insists the bald eagles are messages from Robert) … We tell him we miss him, that we wish we were having a beer with him. We tell him how strong his widow and kids are.
My cousin’s friends go online and post photos and write cryptic young-people things. Older relatives write messages to the younger folks about drugs, even party drugs, and how we hope Tom is the last of their generation to die of drugs. Girls declare old crushes on him … Even years later.
They’re living tributes. They’re beautiful and tragic, and significantly more “real” than a graveside gathering. Staring at a stone may be a ritual we’ve adapted as a culture through many years, but looking at pictures and processing in a group who are all feeling something similar seems much more real.
Photo credit: Flickr / Alex E. Proimos